Bringing ‘Carolina’ to Peanut Fest

Published 10:01 pm Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Parmalee, from North Carolina, will perform at this year's Suffolk Peanut Festival.

Parmalee, from North Carolina, will perform at this year’s Suffolk Peanut Festival.

By Frank Roberts


Parmalee will be closing a country-tinged Peanut Fest on the Main Stage at 5:15 p.m. Sunday Oct. 12, festival officials have announced.

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Scott Thomas will be playing the drums, and therein lies one of the most frightening stories in the history of country music — and that is not an exaggeration.

“I had a 5 percent chance of survival,” he told a Fox News interviewer in recounting the harrowing tale.

“I had to do something. I acted as fast as I could,” he told me, during a recent phone interview from Southern Pines, N.C.

One night in September 2010, the guys had just finished playing at a bar in Rock Hill, S.C. They went into their RV, and two men, one with a handgun, came in behind them, demanding money.

Thomas came out from the back of the vehicle, brandishing his gun and demanding they leave. The intruder then opened fire, hitting Scott in the leg, stomach, and shoulder. The young drummer fired back, hitting both intruders.

Demario Burris was killed; Dytavis Hinton was wounded. Thomas was taken to a Charlotte, N.C., hospital, where his condition was listed as critical. He remained hospitalized for 35 days, 10 of them spent in a coma.

Now, all is well.

“I have a little leg damage,” he told me, adding in understatement, “It wasn’t a fun thing to go through. The guys went through the trauma of seeing all of that. I worked out, went through rehab, and in February I hobbled on stage.”

One of Parmalee’s songs, which has not a thing to do with that frightening event, is called, “Musta Had A Good Time.” That’s what the band has been having, musically, since its members were kids.

The lineup features Scott Thomas and his brother, Matt, plus their cousin, Barry Knox. A friend, Josh McSwain, rounds out the group that began professionally in 2001.

Before that, the family crew performed with dear ol’ Dad as Jerry Thomas and the Thomas Brothers Band, playing, as the drummer describes it, “the rockin’ side of country.”

Records on the Deep South record label put them in the “hit” category. Parmalee’s debut EP was titled “Daylight,” and the band spent two years touring and promoting the album. The next album, live and acoustic, also has a one-word title — “Inside.” It was followed by “Complicated,” and then the band moved to a new label with the late-2013 release of “Feels Like Carolina.”

“Carolina,” the best candidate for a title track on that album, has been a good-sized hit for the band, for whom the Tarheel State is home.

All the band members, who play multiple instruments, were born and raised in Parmele (they added the extra ‘e’ because it is easier to pronounce) a not-so-bustling community of about 280 folks, gathered on 1.2 square miles of Northeastern North Carolina.

We talked about their “Carolina” hit when I told Scott Thomas about the 1930s song, “Carolina Moon,” inspired by a drive across Hertford, N.C.’s colorful “S” bridge. He was interested and said he would find it and give it a listen.

You might want to give Parmalee a listen at Peanut Fest.

“We have a high-energy show,” Thomas said. “You’ll have a good time. It’s party time, and, we’ll sign autographs and take pictures of everybody.”

Darryl Worley precedes Parmalee on the Main Stage on the closing day of Peanut Fest, with a show getting under way at 3:30 p.m. He has been in the public eye since 1999 and can claim 18 singles on the Billboard Hot Country Songs charts, three of which went to No. 1.

During a 60-year career spanning newspapers, radio and television, Frank Roberts has been there and done that. Today, he’s doing it in retirement from North Carolina, but he continues to keep an eye set on Suffolk and an ear cocked on country music. Email him at